The Senate unanimously moved late Monday to establish a historic site at a former internment camp for Japanese Americans in Colorado, overcoming objections from a Utah senator to pass the bill ahead of the 80th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to set up the camps during World War II.
Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado Democrat, said he reached an agreement with Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican and the only senator to object to establishing the Amache National Historic Site Act as part of the National Park System.
“I’m thrilled the Senate passed our bill to establish Amache as a part of the National Park System,” said Mr. Bennet, the bill’s sponsor. “The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II at sites like Amache is a shameful part of our country’s history. Our bill will preserve Amache’s story to ensure future generations can learn from this dark chapter in our history.”
Mr. Lee did not object to the actual site but sought a land exchange, saying the federal government has struggled to keep up with a maintenance backlog.
Mr. Bennet said the town of Granada donated the land as a “patriotic contribution” to recognize the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forced from their homes out West and put in 10 camps.
The Utah senator did not object to Mr. Bennet’s amendment to characterize the land as a donation, clearing the way for passage by unanimous consent and a final vote in the House.
Mr. Lee’s opposition sparked an outcry from the Japanese American Citizens League and GOP candidates who plan to challenge him in this year’s election.
“Once again, Mike Lee prefers to be the obstructionist, lone ‘no’ vote, embarrassing Utahns and disrespecting Japanese Americans,” tweeted Ally Isom, a challenger who describes herself as a mainstream Republican.